Dealers End 2021 with a Strong December

Saw double-digit sales gains despite a slowdown from fall

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Appliance, consumer tech and home furnishings retailers closed out a rough-and-tumble year with a December to remember.

According to the latest monthly sales estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, appliance and CE sellers enjoyed a 14.6 percent bump year-over-year, to some $7.4 billion, while furniture and home furnishings stores saw sell-through rise just over 11 percent, to $11.8 billion.

That said, business took a breather from November, when sales began to plateau from their October highs, as inflation, labor shortages, the omicron variant, and inventory tightness all took a toll. Month-over-month sales slipped 2.9 percent in December for the appliance and electronics channel, while furniture and home furnishings merchants took it on the chin with a 5.5 percent decline from November.

Nonetheless, the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association, still found reason to cheer, pointing to an earlier-than-ever start to the holiday season. “We closed out the year with outstanding annual retail sales and a record holiday season, which is a clear testament to the power of the consumer and the ingenuity of retailers and their workers,” said NRF president/CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers delivered a positive holiday experience to pandemic-fatigued consumers and their families [who were] backed by strong wages and record savings and began their shopping earlier this year than ever before.”

The NRF pegged total U.S. holiday sales, defined as the November-December period, at a chartbusting $886.7 billion, representing a record growth rate of 14.1 percent over 2020. On an unadjusted year-over-year basis, sales at furniture and home furnishing rose 15 percent and sales gains at appliance and electronics stores were just behind at nearly 14 percent, the trade group said.